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Rutgers upsets No. 24 Pittsburgh, Panthers start 0-2 in Big East play

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Despite an 11 a.m. ET tip-off in Piscataway, N.J., Rutgers came out with energy and purpose in the early minutes of its matchup with No. 24 Pittsburgh Saturday, surviving a second-half push from the Panthers to get an upset win at home, 67-62.

Eli Carter led the way for Rutgers with 23 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the floor and 10-of-10 shooting from the free throw line.

The Scarlet Knights turned the ball over 18 times on the game, which kept the game close in the second half. It was the biggest factor that allowed Pittsburgh to cut into a 14-point halftime deficit at the start of the second half with a 9-0 run.

The Panthers trimmed the lead to as little as two points with close to four minutes remaining after a Durand Johnson bank three-pointer, but Dane Miller threaded a pass to Jerome Seagears for a layup to push the lead back to four.

Pittsburgh had success early in the second half by slowing Rutgers’ transition game that had built the 14-point halftime lead. Stuck in the half-court, Rutgers had trouble controlling the basketball and slipped out of rhythm.

That changed in the final three minutes, as Pittsburgh went 0-of-5 from three-point range and freed the Scarlet Knights from half-court set. That opened up the full-court game that had given Rutgers success in the first half. Pittsburgh shot 7-of-25 from three-point range on the game.

With Rutgers up six points and just over 1:35 to play, Pittsburgh senior Talib Zanna was called for a technical foul for pushing Rutgers forward Wally Judge. That gave the Scarlet Knights three foul shots and possession, which ultimately sealed the game with the help of a 9-1 run.

After going 12-1 in the non-conference and finally cracking into the Top 25, Jamie Dixon’s Pittsburgh Panthers are now 0-2 in the Big East, following this loss and a loss earlier in the week to Cincinnati.

Poor shooting from the floor and a -8 rebounding margin hurt Dixon’s team Saturday. Senior Tray Woodall, in a homecoming of sorts returning to New Jersey, shot just 3-of-11 from the floor, though he worked well as a facilitator with eight assists.

Zanna, coming into the game averaging over six rebounds per game, had just one on Saturday. He was outworked by a rebounding patchwork from Rutgers, with six players tallying at least four rebounds.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Nigel Hayes’ comment on basketball brands hits on greater point

Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes (10) drives on Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Madison, Wis. Hayes had a team-high 21 points in Wisconsin's 79-68 win. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
AP Photo/Andy Manis
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Much is made about the ball when it comes to how the sport of basketball is played and rightfully so, as the ball is the most important piece of equipment. Different brands have different characteristics, and with college basketball programs being able to pick the ball they use for home games there are adjustments to be made during the season.

Wisconsin will play at No. 2 Maryland Saturday, meaning that in the days leading up to the game the Badgers needed to get used to the Under Armour basketball. The brand became a conversation point in the aftermath of Maryland’s win over No. 4 Iowa last month, with the Hawkeyes (while not blaming the ball for their loss) made note of the differences between the Under Armour ball and the Nike ball they use for their home games.

Thursday Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes offered up his observations on the basketball while also pointing out (albeit sarcastically) the goal of intercollegiate athletics.

“It’s definitely different,” Hayes said. “Personally, we don’t like it too much. I don’t like the Under Armour ball whatsoever. But that’s the way this amateur sports league is set up. We’re supposed to be having fun, but all the money is in these basketballs that colleges play with. But it’s an amateur sport, we’re just here for fun. It’s not really that serious. So I guess any ball should be OK.

“Maybe we should have a universal ball like the NBA. You don’t go to the Clippers’ stadium and play with a Nike and then go to Golden State and play with a Rawlings. But in this amateur sport of college, where money isn’t the goal — it’s the student education and experience that you get — we play with a million different basketballs.”

Hayes makes a good point here, and in regards to the NBA all hell would break loose under similar circumstances (remember the leather vs. microfiber composite controversy in 2006?). If these games are solely about fun and the college experience, wouldn’t having one ball used by all schools better fit that mission? This isn’t the biggest of deals when it comes to “amateur” athletics, as different basketball brands have been used for years.

But Hayes was able to take this situation and work it into the discussion of the goals of intercollegiate athletics. Is it about the experience? Or does the ability to profit, be it through a minor move such as using a particular ball or the more impactful step of moving from one conference to another, take precedence? Given the shifts that have occurred in college sports in recent years, it’s quite apparent that the search for additional revenue streams has won out.

Hayes did note that neither he nor his teammates would make excuses, saying that the team would simple “have to get used to” the unfamiliar basketball according to the Wisconsin State Journal. In the end, this was a good use of sarcasm by Hayes to make a greater point about the collegiate athletics machine he and his teammates are but minor parts of.

Marquette fan sends Providence money for missed free throw

Providence's Kris Dunn reacts to his shot during the first half of an NCAA basketball game against Villanova, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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It goes without saying that sports can inspire some interesting promises, from players and coaches guaranteeing victory to fans making statements that hinge on the outcome of a particular game or play (see: tattoos celebrating a team’s triumphs before they’ve even won the game in question). For one Marquette fan, the need for Providence’s Kris Dunn to miss a free throw during Wednesday night’s game (which Marquette won in overtime) inspired him to make a promise that he intended to keep.

Jamey Schilling took the approach of yelling that he’d pay Dunn $10 if he missed the free throw. Sure enough Dunn missed the shot, and Schilling made good on his promise. But with players themselves unable to receive such funds due to NCAA rules, Schilling sent the check to the Providence athletic department.

Schilling’s gesture did not go unnoticed by Marquette either, as the school sent him a gift card to use in the Marquette Spirit Shop.

H/T For The Win